By Sarah Svarda, Book Fair Chairperson and Librarian at Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro, TN
On the Scholastic Book Fair Organizer Facebook pages we often have chairpersons asking for help. One question I’ve noticed over and over again is advice for newcomers. Being a chairperson of a Scholastic Book Fair for the first time is exciting but can also feel like a really big job. I’ve returned to our Facebook feed to dig up all of the best advice that has been shared by other chairpersons and Scholastic representatives for book fair newbies.
Setting up and running your fair is a lot of work but Scholastic has already done a lot of the work for you to make your job easy. Here is what the Scholastic Book Fair Organizer Facebook group has to share about hosting your first book fair:
10. Involve your students.
Scholastic calls these students your CREW members. Your sales will automatically be better when you have students advertising the books! The shoppers make connections with their peers and get excited about their book recommendations. Read more about using a CREW here and here.
9. Reach out to your Scholastic Representative.
Your Scholastic Rep will be able to walk you through several of the other steps that are listed in this article. They can help get you signed up for a workshop, walk you through your online tools in the Chairperson’s Toolkit as well as order promo/decorating kits to prepare for your case fair. Your Scholastic representative should be your best friend. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask questions.
8. Ask to join Scholastic Book Fair Organizers Facebook page.
Scholastic’s Book Fair Organizer Facebook pages for elementary and middle school is a creative space to share ideas and ask questions. The Facebook groups are a place where you can ask anything and there are always several people available to help you out!
7. Communicate with your principal and PTA.
Make plans to talk to your principal and PTA and ask about the best time to set up and run your fair. You want to establish that communication with your principal early because school calendars fill up quickly. Try to plan your book fair during a school or PTA event. Some events that work well are parent/teacher conference days, PTA meetings, after school events or family meal days in the cafeteria.
6. Use the new Volunteer Tool to organize volunteers seamlessly.
The Volunteer Tool is in your online Chairperson Toolkit. The tool helps you to choose jobs related specifically to Scholastic Book Fairs and ask volunteers to fill those positions. You can print out your volunteer lineup and the tool contacts all of your volunteers with reminders for you. It even provides them with training materials so they show up prepared and ready to help.
And even more good news – Scholastic is continually making enhancements to the tool, adding new features and upgrades such as starting from a past sign-up sheet and offering customizable email templates.
5. Attend a Book Fair workshop.
Book fair workshops are held in the fall and spring in an area near you. The workshops are a great place to meet your Scholastic Representative as well as mingle with other book fair chairpersons. Your Representative will talk about some of the most popular books available on your book fair. Attendees also brainstorm and share ideas that will work well with the current Scholastic theme. You’ll leave with lots of ideas ready to implement at your fair!
4. Order your Pre-Fair Promo Kit.
When you host a Scholastic Book Fair, your school can order either a promotional or decorating kit. Choose which suits you best. I personally like to choose the promotional kit because I like to share the book titles with the kids and let them look through them before the fair arrives. You can order a decorating kit if you’d like to make your decorating a little bit easier. Both can make your life a lot easier! If you order the promotional kit, think about having drawings for the promotional books as free gifts after you share them with your kids. If you need help ordering your free Pre-Fair Kit, contact your local Scholastic representative. (Please note though, the free Kit is not available for Tabletop Fairs.)
3. Show the Scholastic Online Preview to your kids.
Before each fair, Scholastic creates amazing videos about the advertised titles for the book fair. Choose the videos that are appropriate for your kids and show them the videos during class time, on the school news or play them on a loop in your school library. The kids are excited to learn which titles will be coming to their book fair. You can also give the kids the Scholastic book fair flier during their library class time and let them circle the titles they are excited about. They can then take the fliers home and share with their parents. Here is the link for the advertised titles for Spring 2017.
2. Use the Chairperson's Toolkit.
Each chairperson is supplied with an online planning Toolkit. Your toolkit includes everything from your Volunteer Tool to your Fair Files. You will be given step-by-step directions to preparing for your fair a week at a time. Play around with your toolkit early so you can decide which features you’d like to utilize when you are planning, running and wrapping up your Scholastic Book Fair.
1. Share, share, share on social media.
You cannot ever share the details about your book fair too much. Share your book fair dates and special events. Share the link for your families to shop online. Share your bestsellers. Share volunteers having fun at your book fair. The more you share, the more your families will stop by to see what everyone is talking about! Scholastic has tools for sharing through social media in your Chairperson’s Toolkit.